Lerk

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Lerk last won the day on June 2 2016

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About Lerk

  • Rank
    Skeptic
  • Birthday 08/18/1960

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Houston, Texas
  • Interests
    science, energy
  • More About Me
    I am a computer programmer, married over 35 years, with two grown children. My wife's father was a minister, and our younger son is a minister. My older son, fortunately, discovered the truth awhile back. The real truth, not the "capital 'T' Truth".

    Still attending church weekly. I was actually outed last year, but knowing how badly that was going to go, I jumped back into the closet. That has turned out to be pretty comfortable because people don't expect anything from me now, religiously speaking.

    I've explained to my wife how I came to understand that it was all mythology, but she really doesn't want to believe it, and I still say a prayer with her at dinner! But we're starting to skip that more often.

    In some ways, Christianity has kept my life and my family stable, and I appreciate the regular moral training about being a responsible citizen and family member, and about caring for others. I don't know that, without the "you have to be there every week" attitude, I would ever have accepted that training and my life may not be as good as it is. Then again, my life could easily have been better, and churches certainly don't have a monopoly on morality. (In fact, sometimes they're just downright immoral.)

    On the other hand, I wish I had all of those Sundays back to spend with my family doing things that would have kept us closer. I can't really blame religion for a lack of recreation in my life, as many 3-time-a-week Christians do, in fact, spend more time in recreation with their families than I did. My problem may just be the fact that I was just too "responsible", and I don't know whether religion did that, or if I was just born that way. (I know I have always tried to do what was expected of me, even as a child, so it may just be my neurological makeup.)

    Regardless, I wish I had the Sundays back, and that all of that money given to the church could have been used for enjoying life with my family.

    Regarding how I came to realize that Jehovah is a myth like all other gods, it was in church, and I was 52 years old, when the preacher read a couple of verses of Genesis 3. Having turned there I read the entire chapter and realized, for the first time, that there was no Satan in the chapter. It was an ordinary snake! I knew I didn't believe it as written, and that neither did anyone else present. We had, all of our lives, believed that Satan had used the serpent, yet the Bible said nothing of the kind. There's not a single person in that church, not a single person I know, who believes Genesis chapter 3, yet nearly everyone says it is true.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
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  1. No doubt! When the Most High took away their deity (Psalm 82) they showed up in South America and built landing strips!
  2. I realized just how much of a cult it is the other day. My wife hadn't been there in a few weeks -- she usually misses mornings due to health issues, and has a hard time facing the crowd anyway, so on one Wednesday night she decided to go to a small 100% African American congregation. The Sunday night before, we had gone to a mainline CoC in the evening. So on Friday we were going out to grab a bite to eat, and as we're walking up to the door one of the elders of our congregation walks out, apparently trying to get a good cell-phone signal or maybe trying to talk where it isn't so noisy. Anyway, he was on the phone and didn't see us, but she panicked and we turned around and went back to the car, and found someplace else to eat. Now, nothing would have happened. He would likely have been very friendly and said nothing about "missing us at worship." But the fact that people in the CoC are so afraid of seeing other people from their church in public if they haven't been there in awhile tells you just how much social pressure there is to conform. It's NUTS! Cult or not, it's an unhealthy relationship.
  3. Yup! Just when you think things have settled down, something happens to cause a flare up. If you can get her to go to a real counselor rather than a Christian counselor, this could help. My wife is so freaked out to attend at the over-crowded NI-Church of Christ that we're members of, she's considering switching to a mainline CoC. Since the two types have nothing to do with each other, and since switching would not garner too much flack, I'd be thrilled. But I've decided that I'm not going to "place membership" or take communion when I'm there, and I'm not going to go without her. Right now I go on Sunday mornings even when she doesn't (and she usually can't do mornings). I fear there'll be an argument involved, but there's just no reason for me to get my name added to the roll. I'll be happy to be the "unbelieving spouse."
  4. Lerk

    Will I ever stop being angry?

    Maybe, but much, much easier said than done. Over time it should fade naturally if not re-enforced. In a shorter time, one can possibly reason themselves out of it on their own or with help. But emotions are reactions to situations or events, so to change them in spite of the situation requires work, not a simple choice. You can choose to do the work, but even then it may not be easy or successful. Some people may be less inclined to strong emotion, and some have been better trained to not let events or situations affect their emotions. For them, it feels like a choice.
  5. In Genesis 1:26 we read "Then God said, 'let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'" Christian theology says that "us" refers to the Trinity -- the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The author of Colossians says (in 1:16) " For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him," implying that Jesus was there at the beginning. John 1:1-3 implies the same thing (while embracing the doctrine of the Logos, a topic for another time). While there are theologians who dispute the doctrine of the Trinity and claim that the New Testament doesn't support it, the fact that the New Testament claims that there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit seems indisputable. The idea that they are three yet somehow one is, admittedly, confusing, and the Nicene Creed says (for all practical purposes) it's implied, so just accept it without trying to understand! But it's easy for a Christian to see the "three" here and impose that upon Genesis. As I've discussed before, the writers of the first books of the Bible were henotheistic. They believed that there were multiple gods, but that they were to worship only their god, Yahweh aka the LORD. Deuteronomy 32:8-9 makes it clear that the Most High god gave the nation of Israel to the LORD as an inheritance. The other gods got other nations as their own inheritance. Christians impose the beliefs of New Testament times (and beliefs of today that may not even be consistent with the New Testament) upon the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible under the false belief that it must be 100% consistent. It isn't. The Hebrew Bible is it's own book and has been co-opted by Christians. This is unsurprising, since the New Testament church comprised, at first, Jews, and came out of Judaism. But the idea of "God" had evolved throughout the ages that the Old Testament spans, and the idea that there is only one god coalesced somewhere in the middle, by the time of the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. At that point, Baal had become a false god, rather than simply the god of another nation. In Genesis 1, "us" means "the Most High God and the sons of God." When you read the Bible, you need to read it to see what it actually says, rather than trying to force your beliefs on the whole thing. Christians claim that their beliefs come from the Bible, but the opposite is actually true: Christians start with their beliefs, then try to make the Bible fit. And it's not even the New Testament that they're starting with -- it's 21st Century beliefs. If you want to try to be Biblical in your beliefs, you're going to have to start at the beginning and read the book, noticing when the notions you have -- the things you've been taught your entire life and those you've come to believe over the years -- don't align with the text you're reading. If you won't do that, can you actually say that you're studying to show yourself approved, or that you're searching the scriptures to see what is true?
  6. Lerk

    Will I ever stop being angry?

    I've been an atheist for 6 years now. (I'm 58 years old.) No, it isn't 20 years, but I'm still mad. Maybe it's because I'm still finding out things about the history, so it keeps getting stirred up. I'm also semi-closeted, so I'm exposed to it more often than I'd like to be. (Long story told elsewhere.) I'm currently reading Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now. I didn't realize until I started this book that "Romanticism" was backlash against the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers were showing the world that the only way to be certain of anything was through empiricism. The Romantics said "no no no no no! Feelings are just as relevant!" We were in the Nordic Museum in Seattle a few months ago and there on the wall was a plaque mentioning this! But things really are better now. It's just that we have a long way to go, and we've been moving the wrong direction for a few years now. But over time we've been going in the right direction, so hopefully the course reversal isn't permanent. I don't think it is... it's we baby boomers and the Gen-Xers who are messing things up right now. The younger generations aren't falling for this shit.
  7. Fundamentalist Christians don't think it matters. They believe that the Catholic Church is apostate, but that their god managed to use that apostate church to help the "truth" survive until the 21st century. They know the Catholics assembled the Bible and that there was controversy over which books should be included (Wesley and the book of James, in particular), but their presupposition is that Jehovah could have made sure what we have today is exactly the way he wanted it, therefore he would have. How it got to the state it's in is irrelevant in their minds. Liberal Christians, or their theologians anyway, have no such illusion. But a lot of them have other illusions! In Deuteronomy 32, the "Song of Moses," the original language makes it clear that the author believed that the nation of Israel was "the LORD's" portion. The other nations were led by other gods. These were given by "the Most High" god to his sons. (Meaning that "the LORD" aka Yahweh is a son of the Most High.) Biblical scholars know this. There's a well-regarded treatise on this subject by Michael S. Heiser (here) where the author goes to great pains to explain that the Septuagint language is correct, and the Masoretic was changed and should not have been, when it talks about the "sons of god." He admits that the language used is exactly like that of other nations at the time, yet he insists that the writer intended for the LORD to be equated with the Most High in this passage. He knows all of this stuff, yet he insists that the Bible is different than the other religions of the time. I looked him up (on Wikipedia here) and, not a big surprise, even though he has advanced degrees from the University of Wisconsin -- Madison, which I would assume is a good school, his undergrad is from Bob Jones, a fundy Bible college. So he managed to get his PhD and hear the truth about the Bible, yet he takes this real sticking point (this passage is the number one reason I could never be a Christian believer again), and he spins it to the fundy view. The cognitive dissonance must be screaming in his brain!
  8. I have another blog that I've recently re-titled "Be Ready Always to Give an Answer," where all of my posts for the last few years reside. For the most part they deal with things Christians believe, and why they're wrong. I renamed the blog in hopes that it will show up in Christians' search results. Having done that, there are things I want to post about that don't fit the theme, and would detract from that blog and the audience I hope to gain. Since this blog was stuck here, I'll just use it. Today's post should be titled: I'm sick of it! I'm a closet atheist because I have a son who is a minister, and when he got a hint that I wasn't a believer the conversation didn't go well. I tested the waters and found them to be too uncomfortable. My wife is a believer. She has doubts, but those doubts freak her out. She also has a lot of social anxiety problems, and health problems on top of that, so normally I end up going to church by myself on Sunday morning, and then I go back if she goes on Sunday night. But this church we go to has too many people in too small of a space. It's still growing, and as far as I can tell they don't have a plan to relieve the overcrowding. (They did something about it a year ago, but they've already outgrown that.) Sunday a week ago I went in and found a seat. Then someone else came in and had to sit next to me. Normally I just read a book on my phone during the sermon, but that doesn't work if I have a neighbor. Anyway, being uncomfortable with the crowd (I guess I have social anxiety, too), I left after the Lord's Supper. Then yesterday I showed up, went in, and couldn't find a place to sit that wasn't next to someone. I'd like a space between myself and any non-family-member, please! I actually shook hands with one of the guys who takes roll (isn't it creepy that they do that?), but then I left. (And I was counted present!) So that's two weeks in a row I've gone and not stayed. A week ago my wife wanted to go to a different church (a mainline Church of Christ as opposed to our usual Non-Institutional Church of Christ) in the afternoon. Yesterday she didn't want to go at all. But what I'm sick over is how stressed this makes me. I don't believe a word of this, yet two weeks in a row I've been horribly stressed over the issue. If my wife were to decide to permanently go to a mainline church, I would only go when she did, and most importantly, I would not place membership there. If they bothered to put my name in the directory, it would have an asterisk beside it for "non-member." It might result in some argument with her about it before all is said and done, but in the end it would be done. And since our minister son and his wife always goes to the church we're at now when they're in town (even when they staying with his wife's parents, who go to another congregation of the same denomination!), I wouldn't have to worry about them ever finding out the people at the new church know I'm a non-believer. But this is just stupid. I'm getting to the point that being in the closet is unbearable, but I'm not ready to face the consequences when it comes to our son.
  9. Lerk

    One step at a time

    Welcome aboard! Fundamentalist Christians are certainly in a better position to realize that they've been taught mythology as fact than are liberal Christians. I'm glad to have been raised as a fundamentalist because of that fact.
  10. Lerk

    Empty

    Welcome! I'm glad that I was raised in a fundamentalist tradition, because it made it much easier to realize that the Bible was simply myths, followed by legends, followed by embellished history, then transitioning back to myths! Had I been raised in a liberal Christianity, I might never have stumbled upon a reason to doubt.
  11. Lerk

    De-converting was crazy

    Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free! That's one of the few true statements in the Bible.
  12. Revelation 22: 6-7 says 6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Depending upon the theology taught by various churches, the visions in Revelation (most of the book, after the letters to the seven churches) may have to do with events that are still in the future as of today, or it may be that most of them were fulfilled when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, but some have yet to be fulfilled and it's hard to tell which are which. Those who don't believe in pre-millennialism (the idea that the 1000 year reign is in the future) would say that Revelation is about Jesus using Rome to judge Israel for rejecting him. Others think it's about Jesus judging Rome itself for persecuting the Christians, and they're being encouraged that it'll happen in good time. Most evangelicals believe it's about a coming judgment -- the "rapture" of the saints and the remaining here on Earth of everybody else for 1000 years. One of the main arguments against pre-millennialism is the passage quoted above, where John sees Jesus saying he'll return soon. But verses 1-6 describe what's going to happen when Jesus comes. Verses 3-5, in particular, claim 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. If that's about a future on Earth, it hasn't happened yet. If it's about Heaven, the final judgment hasn't happened yet, either. If it's about Rome, well, Rome was never destroyed, it just gradually lost power (ceding it to the Catholic church). If it's talking about the church, which some theology teaches is the kingdom, it's a miss because this vision does not describe life as a Christian today. The "servants will worship him" could be said to be true, since Christians do worship, but the "seeing his face" and "no more night" parts are not a part of today's Christian life. Matthew 24 is a similarly debated passage. The part about the "abomination of desolation" is clearly about the temple being destroyed, and Jesus telling his followers to (literally) head for the hills. Then you get to verses 29-31 which say 29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. This is all supposed to happen immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem. In non-pre-millennial churches they'll tell you this part is still in the future, but the part before already happened. In pre-millennial churches they'll tell you that none of it has happened yet. So is the pre-millenialist's conclusion more logical? Well, no, because Jesus tells them that they, personally, will be delivered up to tribulation and be put to death at that time. and if it's 2000 years in the future, they can't be a part of it. The truth is that both Matthew 24 and Revelation 22 present events that are supposed to happen within a very short time span. There's no room here for 2000+ years. By the time II Peter was written, people were beginning to wonder why Jesus hadn't returned. No wonder! He clearly said it wouldn't be long! So Peter just says "a day with the LORD is as 1000 years and 1000 years as a day" -- in other words, "soon" doesn't mean the same thing to the LORD that it does to people. And besides, he just wants people to have time to repent. I was in a Bible class the other night where Ezekiel was being studied (Ezekiel having been reinterpreted to be about the Christian age, because everything in the Old Testament is force-fit by Christianity into New Testament theology). Revelation 22 was referenced, so I highlighted verse 7 and made a note in my (phone app) Bible: "For sufficiently large values of 'soon'." That's a math joke. There are equations that can be said to be true only for sufficiently large values of a particular variable "n". In those cases, the equation wouldn't be true for small values of "n". There's an explanation here that's sort-of cryptic to me. I grasp the basic concept, but couldn't quickly find a clear explanation online. Anyway, my note here simply means that Jesus' statement in Revelation 22 is true only for sufficiently large values of the variable "soon." The problem there is that "soon" implies a small number and 2000+ years cannot be construed as "soon", Peter's "1000 years is as" comment notwithstanding. Jesus' own words in Matthew 7:15-20 say that a prophet is known to be true or false by their fruits. The most obvious of the fruits you might know a prophet by is whether their prophecies come true. The prophecy in Revelation 22 (John's vision of Jesus' words) and Jesus' own prophecy in Matthew 24/Mark 13 failed. Period. Peter's readers were right to reject Christianity, because the religion's prophecies were and are false.
  13. Lerk

    I just said fuck it

    The Bible even says so! "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." In other words, faith is a substitute for substance and evidence. Faith is what allows a person to believe when there's no real reason to. Welcome to the real world!
  14. EXACTLY! Someone can pay a debt for someone else, and it makes it right for the person who was wronged. But someone cannot accept punishment for someone else, because -- as the old cliche goes -- two wrongs don't make a right! Their god can't possibly demand that a punishment is required for every sin against him, and that it doesn't matter whether the guilty party is the one punished or not, that he just has to punish somebody and everything will be back in balance. Welcome aboard!
  15. Do you have to tell them? I know it may feel important, but it might be easier to just let them think (at some point in the future) that you drifted away gradually. If it doesn't affect your day-to-day life, then why do something that's going to end up being traumatic. On the other hand, if you live near them and still have to go to church with them, by all means find a way out of it. Whatever you do, you don't want their belief in mythology to impact your life any more than it has to. Welcome aboard!